Here’s How You Can Bulk Download Your Facebook Data
Facebook: “It’s time to make privacy tools easier to find.” Users: “It’s about time.”
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Deep in damage control mode, Facebook has announced instructions for viewing and downloading the library of data users have amassed on their platform over the years.
The move is a direct response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exposed questionable methods of data-sharing between Facebook and third-parties, and called into question the very foundation of Facebook’s relationship with its users: that is, data-enabled advertising in exchange for free and unfettered use of its platform.
In a blog post titled, “It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find,” Facebook provides education to users around their privacy preferences and how they can better understand the scope of data shared with Facebook. The goal of the post is to “help people understand the choices they have over their own data,” which seems to place some of the onus on users.
Updated Privacy Controls (for Mobile)
Per Facebook, the first step was to make the privacy controls more accessible to users. So, they’ve streamlined privacy controls within a single, dedicated space and created a Privacy Shortcuts Menu. Within the menu, users can take a variety of actions like reviewing what you’ve shared (and delete as you see fit), managing their Ad preferences, and reviewing who can see your profile and shared content.
The big catch here: You can only access the new space via mobile.
While these are settings that Facebook every user should be familiar with, these features do not necessarily get at the heart of the recent criticism of Facebook, which centers on the dissemination of data outside of Facebook’s walls with the aim of shaping events in the real world.
To that end, if you’re curious as to which third-party apps have access to your data, you can check on that here.
How to Bulk Download Your Facebook Data
In addition to being more forthright about data and privacy in the UI, Facebook also shared information around its “Access Your Information” tool, which allows users to download their full “file” from their platform. To be clear, this feature is not new, but it will be more prominently featured moving forward.
In the blog post, Facebook does not explicitly say where to find this tool.
Here’s how you do it:
- Log into Facebook on desktop; go to Settings.
- At the bottom of your General Settings tab, click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
- Click “start my archive.” You will be asked to re-enter your password.
- Facebook will send a download link to the email address associated with your account.
- Facebook notes that you must download the file “within a few days,” or else the process will need to be restarted. This is a security precaution.
The early verdict: many consumers have been shocked to discover the breadth and volume of data that Facebook (and other platforms) store for each of its users. Even for those of us working in the marketing industry, the wealth of data collected might come as a surprise.
The big takeaway, per Verge, is to keep in mind that “if you aren’t paying for a service like Facebook, you are the product, and it’s selling ads based on your data.”
In the wake of the backlash, Facebook is also delaying the announcement of its home smart speaker, which was to be debuted in May to take on the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo.
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